Rudolph is celebrating his 50th year of bringing stop-animation joy into our homes this year. Most of us grew up watching this Christmas classic every year but re-watching it as an adult may leave you with a slightly different interpretation.
Yes, it’s tempting to say that Hermey the elf is gay. He’s got snazzy Justin Bieber hair and a lisp that just won’t quit. So is “dentistry” one of the oldest euphemisms for “raging homosexual”? Possibly. But you can’t really tell someone’s gay until they tell you they are, so if Hermey wants to stay in the closet, or is still exploring his options, we’ll let him. Meanwhile, it seems that some of the lady elves have found him to be an excellent dance partner. Sounds like a win all around.
Santa, however, I have issues with. He’s a dick. Definitely sexist. Pretty racist. I mean, he rejects Rudolph on the basis of the colour of his nose alone. He was totally excited about this guy on paper, but red nose? Deal breaker. And he’s a complete ass about the song the elves perform especially for him. I mean, these little dudes slave away all year long for him, and all he can do is criticize? This is not a nice guy. No wonder kids always cry when you plop them on his lap. I will say though that more mall Santas should aspire to his excellent beard grooming. Man’s got some tidy facial hair. Mall Santas always go for the curly bearded look, and I think it’s a mistake. I also enjoyed Santa’s Sherlock hat – who knew he also rocked the deer stalker?
But the best-dressed award goes to Sam, the snowman narrator. Love the tartan vest, the watch fob, his Colonel Sanders tie, heck, his bowler hat’s accessorized with winter berries! Burl Ives pwnd Christmas, y’all.
Yukon Cornelius is a little more lumbersexual, but you have to hand it to him, he’s an inclusive, forward-thinking guy. His sled dogs include a cocker spaniel, a poodle, a Saint Bernard, a collie, and even a little wiener dog. He’s also a champion for immigrant employment. Who else would think that all this time the Abominable Snowman just wanted to dignified work and a decent wage?
I also felt like the Island of Misfit Toys must have planted the seedling of Toy Story into John Lasseter’s brain. Little Johnny would have been about 7 or 8 when Rudolph first aired and he heard a bunch of talking toys utter the magical words “a toy is never truly happy until it is loved by a child.” There was even a cowboy riding an ostrich. Not much of a stretch to Woody, and a dynasty is born.
It’s still a treat to watch this movie though, it takes you back to simpler times, to wearing your flannel jammies and sharing a big bowl of popcorn with siblings while the Christmas specials air. The animation was done primarily in Japan, but the voice work was recorded in Canada. In fact, the woman (!) who voiced Rudolph lived in the same Ontario retirement residence as the guy who voiced Hermey the elf up until her death a few years ago. For many of us, this movie became a Christmas tradition, one that you can honour during the holidays, or you can do like me and totally desecrate it by buying it on DVD and “accidentally” watching the claymation Destiny’s Child video in the bonus features – or worse yet, the Regis Philbin one.